Cultivating Hepatitis-free Shellfish

Emeritus Professor Lam and team observing cockles cultured in a controlled environment

Emeritus Professor Lam and team observing cockles cultured in a controlled environment

Many Hepatitis A cases reported in Singapore resulted from the consumption of contaminated food from raw or partially cooked shellfish. When harvested from sewage-contaminated waters, these food sources carry the risk of the Hepatitis A virus.

This 3 year research project funded by the Singapore Millennium Foundation aims to develop a land-based recirculating multi-trophic aquaculture system. Using this system, cockles, filter/substrate feeders which feed on food and fecal wastes from fish, will be reared in the same water as fish.

“By injecting the fish with the Hepatitis A vaccine, we hope that the antibodies developed by the fish will be released to the water through mucus secretion, and circulated to the cockles to provide passive immunity against the virus,” explains Professor Lam. “Moreover, since the cockles are farmed in a controlled environment, the risk of these cockles carrying diseases is also reduced.”

The success of this project could mean markedly less risk for everyone tucking into their seafood feast.